Our fractal brains

Part of Fun

Just for fun… this is work by Julius Horsthuis, as featured on Vimeo. Be sure and watch it in fullscreen (the control is in the video player).


Know your enemy

Part of Business as usual + Food + The present moment

There’s been a lot of news lately about the evils of sugar: how it contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and maybe even cancer. Meanwhile, I just ran across a story about the new Cheerios Protein breakfast cereal:

Cheerios Protein “gets you going,” says General Mills, but how exactly does it do that? Not with protein, apparently, but with sugar. It seems the cereal has marginally more protein than regular Cheerios, but massively more sugar. Here’s the story, from ABC News:

In this moment, when some of us like to think that us consumers are thinking carefully about what we put in our mouths, what motivates the Cheerios people to deliver a product like this?

If you look at it from a certain angle, it makes sense: harried double-income parents, hoping against hope that they can sneak something healthy into their children’s wretchedly toxic diets, and kids literally addicted to sugar, who won’t touch a breakfast cereal that isn’t pretty much candy.

Sugary Cheerios, after all, are nothing new; presumably they’ve had success in the market with Frosted Cheerios, Chocolate Cheerios, Banana Nut Cheerios and so on–enough to encourage them to further experiment. Cheerios Protein is a conceptual refinement, an effort to reclaim Cheerios’ mindshare as a healthy breakfast cereal. Oops! Now they’re making news, and not in a good way. However, they may not mind so much, if the product sells.


Water for oil: necessity is the mother of invention

Part of Business as usual + The next economy

From Reuters: a shale oil producer, confronting a Texas drought, will soon be getting its water from the City of Odessa’s sewage treatment plant(s), under an 11-year contract. The (American) National Oil Shale Association reports that shale extraction uses 3 barrels of water for every barrel of oil produced. Presumably, this arrangement offsets the industrial use of water that people might otherwise want to drink.

This is a nice example of economic and institutional adaptation to a changing ecology. It’s a private/public initiative, and it sounds like a win all around, at least in its broad strokes. This kind of thing must be happening in a lot of places now. Local, not global change.

Top shale oil producer Pioneer Natural Resources Co (PXD.N) has found an unusual way to both save water and cut costs for its wells: tapping the treated runoff from toilets, sinks and showers in west Texas.

Pioneer has signed an 11-year, $117 million deal with the city of Odessa, Texas that will guarantee it access to millions of gallons of treated municipal wastewater each day, for use in nearby oilfields. Deliveries of the so-called effluent, are expected to start at the end of the year.


America is on a tear

Part of The next economy

So, President Obama has unveiled his action plan on climate change. The Clean Power Plan is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by shifting America’s electrical generating capacity from coal to renewables (solar and wind). This is to be accomplished through EPA regulation of emissions.

Unsurprisingly, this is invoking horrified responses. What I notice, with interest: under the auspices of a group called Ceres, the plan has also attracted support from no less than 365 businesses, who have written to the National Governors’ Association urging support for the plan:

A lot of the names on the list look like pretty small potatoes, but there are quite a few substantive and familiar names.


Comet lander wakes up

Part of Amazing science + Clever machines all around us

Philae Lander image from Wikipedia

So, the Rosetta space probe’s comet lander Philae has woken up. The lander has been hibernating and incommunicado since late in 2014, when it landed in shade, with not enough sun to recharge its batteries. The lander–presumably now getting some sun–resumed transmission a couple of days ago, and began sending data, including stuff it had stored while out of touch.

Read about it at NASA Spaceflight, or on the European Space Agency’s Rosetta site.

This must be a thrill for the people who sent the probe, who’ve been waiting for months to see if it would resume operations. They must be over the moon.

« older posts • »